Jazz Project 2019: A showcase of young, up and coming jazz talent

On a cold winters morning in June, young up and coming secondary school jazz musicians from around New Zealand and their respective teachers, gathered to compete in NZSM's Jazz Project 2019

Wide-shot of the Rangitoto student line-up in the Big Band and Combo competitons
Rangitoto College students, winners of Best Performance Big Band and Combo Awards at the 2019 NZSM Jazz Project

The first day kicked off with the combo competitions, held at Victoria University of Wellington's Kelburn campus. During the day students competed in front of the local student crowd at the Hunter Lounge, then on to workshop their competition pieces with Jazz Project adjudicators. The commitment of these students and their teachers shone through during Rangitoto's combo performance when the kick/bass drum became loose and their teacher risked 'life and limb' to hold it still for the rest of their set, their combo also went on to take out the Best Performance Jazz Combo prize so the sacrifice was worth it in the end. The first day drew to a close with an open jam session with NZSM Jazz students and secondary students - the perfect ending to our first day of competitions.

" Jam session was cool. Having immediate feedback after playing. Having some of Matt Harris's stature was fantastic. It was cool playing! Cool venue, too. Well set up."*

The second day kicked off at the Micheal Fowler Center and again the big bands were up.  As one teacher from Pukekohe exclaimed it was a fantastic opportunity for his kids to experience what it is like to perform on such a stage.  Although nerves were high for some of the performers the day was a fantastic glimpse of our future performers.  The audience who attended this day all commented on how impressed they were at the level of performance displayed by the students.

"Seeing all of the bands playing, and actually playing ourselves."*

On our final day all the students and the NZSM Jazz Students got to work with Ambrose Akinmusire morning workshop and later ask questions of this USA artist in a closed workshop. They also listened to a concert given by the adjudicators of the Project and view their mentors in action.  After a jam packed day, awards were presented, recognizing this talented group of young performers in both big band and combo competitions.

" Ambrose Akinmusire Quartet Concert. Absolutely insane stuff there."*

This project would not have been possible without the support of the Wellington Jazz Festival, our adjudicators Mark Donlon, Lauren Ellis, Matt Harris, Daniel Hayles, Mike Taylor and Eilish Wilson,and last but defiantly not least the dedicated Jazz Programme staff and students here at New Zealand School of Music!

"The open Jam session with NZSM students & Adjudication by professional and kind judges"*

* Quotes from students in response to the question "what was your highlight during the competition".